Law News
Court orders EFCC to release Fani-Kayode’s passport

A Federal High Court in Lagos has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to release the travelling passport of a former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, who has been facing money laundering charges.

Fani-Kayode’s passport had been seized by the anti-graft commission on the order of Justice Ramat Mohammed in December 2008.

But Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia on Tuesday ordered the EFCC to submit Fani-Kayode’s passport to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, Mr. Bello Okandeji.

The judge said if Fani-Kayode needed the passport, he should file and address a formal application to the court, copying the Attorney General of the Federation. He is to disclose his intended destination and the purpose of his travel in the said application.

Ofili-Ajumogobia however said that Fani-Kayode should not be allowed to stay out of the country for more than 31 days until the conclusion of his criminal trial.

The accused had, through his lawyer, Wale Akoni (SAN), filed an application asking the court to order the release of his passport and grant him permission to travel out of the country.

Ofili-Ajumogobia said the application succeeded as the EFCC did not object to it.

“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission shall bring the passport of the accused person to court within seven days,” the judge held.

Fani-Kayode was arraigned by the EFCC before Ofili-Ajumogobia on February 11, 2013 on 40 counts bordering on money laundering to the tune of N100m.

The EFCC alleged that while he was the aviation minister and then the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Fani-Kayode transacted in cash sums in excess of N500,000 without going through any financial institution.

According to the EFCC, this alleged offence violates Sections 15(1) (a) (b) (c) (d) and 15 (2) (a) (b) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act, 2004.

Fani-Kayode, however, denied the allegations, upon which the prosecution, led by Mr. Festus Keyamo, opened its case on March 10, 2014 and closed it on July 10, 2014, calling a total of six witnesses in the process.

In response to the prosecution, Fani-Kayode filed a no-case application, insisting that the prosecution had not established a prima facie case against him to warrant him entering any defence.

He asked the court to quash the charges and set him free.

Ruling on the no-case application on November 27, 2014, Ofili-Ajumogobia dismissed 38 of the 40 counts preferred against the former minister and asked him to defend himself on the two remaining count charges.

Ofili-Ajumogobia is the third judge of the Federal High Court to preside over the trial after Justices Ramat Mohammed and Binta Murtala-Nyako respectively.

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